Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Everyone's Putting the Squeeze on OJ

Regular reader and all around good guy Jason writes:
So the NCAA said the normal punishment for OJ Mayo's violation was resitution of the monetary value of the gift to charity and suspension for 20% of the teams games. However, since Mayo asked his coach first and Floyd said it was okay to accept the tix, he was spared the suspension because he went through the proper channels. But isn't a violation sponsored by a coach as bad, if not worse? So shouldn't Floyd be suspended for 20% of their games?

Good questions, and I think Tim Floyd was pretty lucky that after throwing himself on the grenade, it turned out to be a dud. But I don't know that Floyd sponsored the violation as much as he was a helpless bystander. From the facts that are known, as well as my own deluded inferences, here is the timeline of events at SC as best as I can tell:

Sunday, Jan 20: Carmelo Anthony is partying at a club in LA the night before his game against the Lakers. Although OJ Mayo is only 20 years old, the freshman is able to get into the club since the bouncers are all 'SC grads anyway. While at the party, Anthony is caught off guard when he sees former Orangeman Gerry McNamara there tending bar. Gerry begs Carmelo for some tickets, and in a desperate moment, Anthony says that he'd already promised them to OJ Mayo. Unfortunately for Carmelo, who was actually planning on giving the tickets to whichever groupies he was planning on nailing Monday night, Mayo was within earshot of the conversation and so Anthony was forced to hand over the tickets. Mayo hangs on at the party until about 4 am until all the ladies that aren't with Carmelo leave, at which time OJ reminds him that he has a game against the Lakers and that Mayo himself needs to get back on campus in time to send his tutor to class for him.

Monday, Jan 21: OJ Mayo is awakened at 2pm by a phone call from Tim Floyd who wonders why Mayo wasn't at practice. Mayo says he thought there wasn't practice on MLK, and besides, why's he need to practice when all he's gonna do in the game is pull up for midrange jumpers? Floyd explains that he needs him there this week because he's planning on installing the parallelogram-and-one defense and it was going to take awhile to teach 21 year-old freshman Davon Jefferson what parallel lines were. So OJ tells the coach he'll do what he can, but that 'Melo had hooked him up with some sweet tickets for the Lakers game, so he might be out late again. Floyd meekly hangs up. Later that night, Mayo is shown at the game on TNT.

Tuesday, Jan 22: Blogs writers, message board denizens, and UCLA alumni - in other words, haters- begin to wonder how a college freshman is able to afford tickets that have a face value of over $200, but in the secondary Los Angeles market, go for much more than that. Because of Southern Cal's reputation, people assume that "Juice Deuce" is getting the Reggie Bush treatment. Real reporter types ask Floyd about the situation, and his initial response is to say that he doesn't know how Mayo got the tickets. Because if there's one thing Floyd has learned from Carmelo Anthony, it's that "snitches get stitches."

Wed, Jan 23: Floyd is now in damage control mode and realizes that it would be very foolish to leave OJ Mayo to the whims of the capricious NCAA, who have a tendency to make examples out of whatever low-hanging fruit they can find. So Floyd says in a statement: "My feeling is that if there's a mistake made, it was made by me. If they want to suspend me for a game, suspend me for a game, but not the kid. He did the right thing." It's a brilliant move of misdirection as the focus now becomes on the NCAA rule itself, and how confounding a rule must be if even the coach himself is confused about it. A sigh of relief is exhaled by every diehard USC basketball fan. All three of them.

Thu, Jan 24: As the Trojans land in Oregon for their game against the Beavers, their flight attendant- a former male USC cheerleader- hands Mayo $500 in cash to cover the restitution costs for the tickets, with a little leftover for any other needs.

Fri, Jan 25: Meanwhile, back in West Virginia, OJ Mayo's father (pictured), 36 year-old Kenny Ziegler is doing some fundraising of his own. Ziegler is arrested by Huntington Police and charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. In Ziegler's defense, the controlled substance was only marijuana, and the amount he had on him wasn't enough to hook up even the starting offense of the West Virginia Mountaineers. Nonetheless bail is set at $111,000, because heaven forbid that someone be provided with a substance that might help them deal with the realization that they're living in West F'n Virginia.

Sat, Jan 26: Mayo fights off leg cramps in Eugene to put up monster numbers (25/8/3) and upset the Ducks, putting the Trojans right back into the thick of the Pac-10 race. Southern Cal alumni are so excited they immediately take up a collection to bail Mayo's dad out of jail, contingent on Mayo getting at least a split out of the Arizona schools.

So as you can clearly see, the free tickets was just a simple gift between friends, completely bereft of greater ramifications or repercussions. It's over and done with, and now the NCAA can focus on more important issues- like booking football stadiums for basketball games to maximize revenue for the Final Four at the fans' expense.

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2 Comments:

At Tue Jan 29, 12:33:00 PM PST , Anonymous Faust said...

Not one hot cheerleader pic in this article. Sigh...
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